Thinkin’ about it, I can’t help but wonder if Oscola was in one of those women’s baseball leagues back during the war. The woman has an arm on her, I tell ya.
This whole thing started when her granddaughter came by to visit one afternoon and left her book bag out in the living area. Granted, by supper Oscola couldn’t tell ya that she had a granddaughter, much less that she had been there that day. So, one by one, we tried to take that bag to Oscola, and each time she’d have an ornerier bee in her bonnet about the whole thing. Finally, near bed time, Bernice schlepped it into Oscola’s room, and set it beside her pleather chair. Bernice was about three paces from the door when Oscola pulled a book from that bag and beaned poor Bernice right in her silver noggin. The entire north wing could her Oscola scream, “I told you, I don’t want your stupid books!” Only she used a much more unladylike adjective; in the ten years she has been here she has morphed from a quaint, quiet, quilting bucket of love into Bob Gibson on a bender.
Anyway, as Bernice rubbed the goose egg growing in her newly styled and set coif, she picked up that book and tucked it under her arm, “It’s mine now, you mean ol’ goat…humph.”
The next morning at breakfast, Bernice was wearing her giant Harry Carey reading glasses, and had her nose tucked deep into that book. I sat down next to her and cleared my throat, “Bernie-bird, what in tarnation are you reading?”
She gave me a mischievous grin, “Now, Juanita, don’t you make fun of me…it’s a love story.”
“So? Why would I make fun of that?”
“Well, it’s a teenage love story…”
I stirred a packet of sugar into my Earl Grey, “Hmm, like Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet?”
“Think more along the lines of Anne Rice.”
“Honey, don’t let Rosary Rose know your reading about witches in love. She’ll be stalking you with a book of matches…”
Bernice whispered something.
“Huh? Speak up, Birdie.”
“I said vampires, okay? It’s about a girl who was rescued by a handsome vampire boy. And now I can’t put the thing down! It’s weird how it makes me feel all swoony, like a school girl again. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been courted and romanced…” Bernice gazed out into the courtyard with the goofiest expression on her face. I was just about to give her a good razzing when I noticed that her goofy face looked a tad smoother somehow.
I leaned toward her, “I want it when you’re done…I could use a little youthful fantasy.”
So, Bernice handed it off to me two nights later, and when I was finished with it I passed it on to Gertie across the hall.
Now, on Tuesdays the Oats Van comes and takes us to Wal-Mart and the Piggly Wiggly. I usually skip these excursions—due to an incessant bout of the gout—but Bernie heard that there was a whole series of these books. Neither one of us wanted to wait for the other to read the next one, so we each got our own copy. We also each got a box of Chestnut Brown Nice and Easy. Heck, if you’re gonna live in a fantasy, go all out.
By the time Thanksgiving rolled around, vampire love had spread through the north wing of Maple Grove like fleas on a hairy dog. What I didn’t realize is that the book had fallen into the hands of a widower named Ed, down in 232a. He saw that all of us ladies were flushed and whispering about it, and made his own excursion to Wal-Mart. He must have also gotten a box of Grecian Formula while he was there, because that familiar scent eased up behind me last night while I was playing Bridge with the gals in the rec room.
Ed reached over my shoulder and slid two movie tickets into my fanned cards, “Miss Juanita, would you like to accompany me on the Oats Van this Friday to catch a matinee at the Galleria? This new movie is all the rage with the youngsters…”
My eyes met his, and I was taken aback by his tousled dark hair contrasting with his pale skin. Bernie kicked me under the table with her giant orthopedic shoe.
“Why, yes, Ed, that would be lovely.”
“Please, call me Edward…”
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